Posts Tagged ‘join the conversation’

Advertising/Sponsorship And The Blogosphere – Issues To Consider?

April 20, 2008

Coming back to thoughts from the IDC Conference, one topic of debate was whether advertising on blogs is okay and whether it sends the right kind of message. Let’s look at it both from the corporation and from the blogger’s point of view.

The Blogger Point Of View.

I personally think third party advertising (ie Nuffnang, Google Adwords/Adsense) is okay. You’re not directly endorsing whatever they’re advertising, just making use of your internet “real estate”. And just like the real world, if you have prime real estate (ie high blog traffic of the right demographics), then why not make some money out of it? After all you’ve worked hard to build that brand and/or community and adding value, no reason why you shouldn’t reap some reward.

What I do have issue with if going straight for advertising. Starting out blogs with the intention of selling space or drawing attention to your 125×125 boxes that you’re willing to sell at $15/week or whatever. It makes me question the validity of the blog and if I should worry about whether you’re telling me A is better than B because A is in one of the 125×125 boxes.

I’m going to condense this with the issue of trust. I haven’t had companies approach me with incentives in return to review stuff. One thing I did opt in for was Joseph Jaffe’s Use New Marketing To Prove New Marketing campaign, where I receive a copy of Join The Conversation and post a review in return. (It’s coming soon). I think that’s fine for three reasons:

1) It’s directly in my niche

2) Jaffe doesn’t ask for a positive review, just an honest review.

3) It’s clear that I got the book for free and I’m reviewing it in return, as opposed to when I plug books that I paid money for.

I think as long as people know that there was a sponsorship involved, they’re fine with it. The big issue is when they’re misled. Then the backlash really comes. For example if I took Jaffe’s book and said it’s God’s gift to marketers/PR agencies/advertisers/the whole world, but didn’t tell them I got $0.10 for every book sale that comes from me, that will hurt me when it comes out. And believe me, it will come out. (That said, I am not making money from Jaffe’s book in any way)

And as a blogger I’d treat any similar “freebie” the same way. I’d be happy to take your product and give it a spin, but the fact that I had that privilege, is not going to colour my review or thoughts either way.

The Corporation’s Point Of View

Many businesses don’t look to bloggers to get their word out yet, because they’re worried about control. What if I give the blogger A and he says A sucks. Well, it comes with the territory. If you don’t give the blogger that product, someone else is going to pay money for it and blog that it sucks anyway. The fault is the product, not the message.

I think the most important thing is not to come across as a company who wants the same thing every company wants (even if you do). Because bloggers will know. A great case study which happened in the US, but could well happen anywhere, is the GM sponsorship of a Manic Mommies event, as covered in CC Chapman’s Managing The Gray. It’s a lengthy case study and you should listen to the podcast to get the full story, but essentially they didn’t say “Here’s $30k, do what you want but plaster our logo everywhere”.

No, they listened to what the Manic Mommies needed and focused on finding the common space where they can add value and build relationships, which really is what this whole space is about.

Ultimately, this space is new and is ever-changing. But trust, transparency and reputation will always be important. The method of doing your advertising online, who you approach and the results may vary, but you have to do it right. Not just “right” in terms of achieving the right metrics and ROI, but right in the proper way that values people and relationships, which will pay for it self many times over in the longterm.

Blogger Outreach: Happening Slowly But Surely

April 12, 2008

Over the last two weeks I’ve been reading about Sheylara’s Xbox gaming preview and then heard about it on the Tech65 podcast today, and last night I read about the HP Mini-note PC blogger preview from Michael, Vanessa, Bernard and Estee (among many others).

My first thoughts? “Damn I need to buy an Xbox 360 just to play The Force Unleashed”, and “Damn that HP Mini-note PC would be sweet to carry while I travel”.

More serious thoughts: I think it’s great that companies like Microsoft and HP would reach out to our local bloggers in the blogosphere. And on top of that, I think it’s great that they didn’t just throw out a wide net and see who gets caught in it, but they really made an effort to engage in targeted outreach to reach the people who would be excited about their products.

Today I also met up with people from The Digital Movement for an informal discussion with a couple of execs from Google to talk a little about feedback and collaboration.

I think this is definitely signaling change in Singapore. No longer are these big companies thinking: We will just produce the product and people will just buy them. They recognise that there is a conversation taking place whether they like it or not, whether they want to take part in it or not.

And frankly, I feel they ignore this conversation at their peril.

I’m sure there are people who’re going to say “Well, how many of these bloggers who saw the HP Mini-note PC will actually buy it? Or how many people who read a blog entry on it will buy it? What’s my conversion rate?” in other words: How is this going to affect my bottom line?

I think from a very practical point of view, that has to be a consideration. But is it the only consideration? So many management case studies point to hotels who give employees a certain amount of money to make right customer complaints as a way of generating goodwill. Is this truly any different?

If the result of this blogger outreach means that the next time someone is searching for the HP Mini-note PC as part of research about whether or not to buy it, and the top few results on Google are these pages and reviews and feedback from the bloggers who attended the outreach, I think the cost of holding that blogger outreach has paid for itself.

I have a lot of other thoughts on the whole blogger outreach strategy and who it works for and stuff like that, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the issue. So… comment away!

Sheylara And I Present: Social Media Breakfast Video

March 26, 2008

Sheylara and I met up just yesterday to squeeze out this video to serve as a trailer for Social Media Breakfast: Singapore happening on Saturday (full disclosure: she did most of the work and deserves most of the credit). Check it out:

I’ve been asked a few times what exactly the Social Media Breakfast is for. To me, it’s mainly for networking and meeting like-minded people who are into the social media space. That said, I think it’s perfectly fine if anyone feels that the main purpose is for fun or socialising or anything like that.

The other question is whether discussion has to be about social media, and I think the answer is no. I think it’s great to talk about the last movie you watched, or what you usually have for breakfast, or if you are a Twitter-addict. Anything goes. I suspect the true magic and connections will materialise after the event, when these relationships are allowed to grow both online and offline, as CC Chapman alludes to from his SXSW experience.

The ultimate goal of Social Media Breakfast? To me, as a believer of Mitch Joel’s belief of building communities and Joseph Jaffe’s belief of creating and joining conversations, the ultimate goal would be to really build up the social media community in Singapore, regardless of individual usages, be it personal, work, school or play.

If you’re interested in attending the event, the Facebook event page can be found here. Breakfast is $4 a person, but you will receive the personal tagging kit free!

If you need to speak to anyone to clarify anything, there’s me, Derrick or Sheylara online, or on Twitter at @uniquefrequency, @derrickkwa, @sheylara. See you on Saturday!

Podcast Of The Month: January

February 18, 2008

Admittedly I didn’t listen to many podcasts in January, but I’m still going to do this for the month, and there are a few conditions:

  • I must have listened to the podcast in January (regardless of when it was actually released)
  • The selected podcast can be the most entertaining/informative/educational. Anything goes.

So the winner for last month goes to Jaffe Juice #101 for an excellent Winners and Losers segment covering the whole Scrabulous fiasco by Scrabble and Mattel, as well as Target’s blatant disrespect to the blogging community. On top of that, it was this episode that motivated me to take part in Joseph’s UNM2PNM (Use New Marketing To Prove New Marketing) initiative, where he sends me a copy of his latest book, Join The Conversation, and I provide him a review in return. Sounds fantastic? It is.

Other notable mentions this month:

There’ll be much more nominees for February (I’ve already listened to about 10 podcasts so far), so keep reading for that, or if you’re feeling nice, why not subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss it?

If you agree or disagree with my choice, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and alternatively, if you have a podcast you’d like to recommend me to listen to, leave me a comment as well.

Why Avenue Q Should Be Free, At Least Online

January 30, 2008

I was talking to Wanida online yesterday and telling her I really enjoyed Avenue Q, so she asked to borrow my soundtrack. I initially said no because she should watch it in person! She countered by saying that hearing the songs, will further increase her interest to catch the next time in New York. I realised that was pretty much the same for me: listening to Les Miserables on cd on an almost-daily basis when I was young made me really want to catch it when I first flew to New York to see how the scenes I imagined in my head played out on stage.

With that in mind, I went to the website to find a song or video clip to show her, but the only clips on the official site were 29 seconds long (featuring a cast who isn’t even performing anymore), and those on youtube are secretly filmed in the theatres.

So how in the world does someone in Singapore get an actual sample of what Avenue Q is about?

First of all, let’s establish that Avenue Q does a great job with traditional marketing. There are huge billboards in Times Square with really funny, provocative advertisements. That works fine if people are living in the United States and are exposed to it.

However, Avenue Q is never going to go to certain countries like Singapore and others because it’s controversial and we’re conservative. When Singaporeans (and perhaps most tourists) visit New York, the tendency is to catch the newest show (Is He Dead?), the hottest show (Wicked) or the sold-out-for-ten-years show (The Lion King). Given that there are easily 20-odd theatres with musicals at any one time, how does a show like Avenue Q get the average tourist to consider their show instead? (And hey, before you think Avenue Q isn’t any good, they won the Tony over Wicked).

My solution is to release full length audio and video clips for download and/or streaming. Before you get up from your seat and go “What? Those seats go for a hundred bucks!”, hear me out.

This will enable people to really sample what the show is like, get the show some exposure, and if they ever make a trip over to the United States, you can bet that in addition to Wicked and Lion King (which will probably be sold out anyway), they’ll have Avenue Q in mind as a possible Broadway musical to catch as well.

Why full length audio? Avenue Q has an advantage in that it has absolutely brilliant and¬†attention-grabbing song titles.¬†Imagine seeing a friend listening to “The Internet Is For Porn” or “It Sucks To Be Me” on MSN or Last.fm, that is definitely going to generate interest, which can translate to word of mouth and eventually, ticket sales.

This concept of distributing certain bits of a product for free isn’t new. I first read about it in October when Chris Anderson gave away a chapter of his book, Mitch Joel at Six Pixels of Separation has also explored How to make money by giving something away for free.

Joseph Jaffe also has a new initiative UNM2PNM (that’s Using New Marketing To Prove New Marketing) by giving away 150 copies of Join The Conversation, as long as the recipients give an honest review of the book. I’ve applied for a book, hopefully geographical restrictions allow for it to happen.

Finally, let me say that I’m providing a fairly simplistic view of Avenue Q’s distribution. I don’t know what the legal scene is like and if this is actually possible. But if it were, this would be something I’d do straightaway.